Complex military operations, such as NATO’s Baltic Air Policing, don’t just happen; it takes months of planning, extensive co-operation between nations and a lot of hard work. In the centre of this is the key role played by the Royal Air Force’s 140 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) Logistics Detachment, commonly known as ‘Movers’.
Below is an interview with one such individual, currently deployed to Ämari Air Base in Estonia, whose efforts are helping to secure the skies above the Baltic States.
So who are you and what is your background?
“I’m part of 140 EAW’s Logistics Detachment out here in Estonia, deployed on Op Azotize-the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission. I joined the RAF in 2004 and have been posted to numerous RAF bases around the UK. I’ve also completed several tours of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as other global tasking as part of 1 Air Mobility Wing.”
What do ‘movers’ do?
“As a UK Logistics Mover my main task is to ensure that equipment and people get to where they’re needed on-time and in good condition. It sounds simple, but it can sometimes feel like moving mountains!”
How does this detachment differ from your normal job in the UK?
“It doesn’t. This is what we train for in the UK. The skills that I employ on a daily basis at my home unit have prepared me for what is required here in Estonia. The focus out here is all about getting jets into the sky at a moment’s notice 24/7.”
What was the preparation like for this operation?
“What people don’t often realise is how much planning is involved beforehand. It took 3 months of hard work to ensure that everything was in place in order to ensure a smooth handover from the Belgians to us. The work put in by everyone certainly paid off as we managed to take over from them early!”
What is a typical day like for you here in Estonia?
“It can vary so much with some pretty long days. My main job revolves around liaising between the supply guys here and back home at Brize Norton in the UK. I have to ensure that vital supplies such as aircraft spares and medical support, as well as personnel travelling to and from theatre, get where they need to go. Movers are really the link between the UK and Estonia-it all comes through us.”
What is it like working with the Estonians and Belgians?
“The Estonians have been brilliant. They couldn’t be more helpful and have given us access to their passenger handling facility, hangars and aircraft handling equipment. They’ve been really proactive and their support means that we can turn aircraft around in quick time.
We have helped support the Belgians as they back-load their equipment, using our fork-lift trucks. Both the Belgians and the Estonians have been great; their English is far better than my Estonian and Flemish, but I am learning fast!”
Image caption: Belgian Air Force movers prepare equipment to be moved. (Cpl David Blackburn)
The question of what the Belgians and Estonians think of working with the Royal Air Force, is readily answered by 1st Lieutenant Guillaume Colla of the Belgian Air Force. He said;
“The handover to the UK has been exceptionally smooth. Everything has gone very well. The Brits are easy to work with and really co-operative, especially with the use of your equipment.”
Warrant Officer Milvert Rozenkron, Chief of the Air Terminal at Ämari Air Base, would appear to agree, he said;
“Working with the Brits last year was excellent and this year is no different. The UK Movers are great communicators and really flexible to operate with. It all makes getting the job done easy.”
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